The Magic of 45 Words

It’s often said that a simple act of kindness can make a tremendous difference in a person’s life. I’m here to tell you it’s true.

“Kindness” doesn’t have to come in large gestures. You don’t have to donate a million dollars to a charity to be considered kind.

In fact, I’d argue the greatest acts of kindness come in small, bite-size, everyday doses that take only a moment or two of the giver’s time, but make all the difference in the life of the recipient.

Here’s what I mean:

As an author, I had a pretty good 2019 (more about that in my next post), but toward the end of the year I was laboring to finish a Regency romance. I started out liking it very well, and I made good progress on my word count and finished scenes.

But once I’d written about 80% of the book, I started to have serious doubts that anything I’d written was even passably good. Then I began to tell myself the same things I always tell myself about my stories:

“This is horrible.”

“No one wants to read this.”

“If anyone does read this, they’ll hate it, and give it a one star review, and I’ll never sell another book again.”

But this time those self-doubts wouldn’t go away. I started to fret and worry about the characters, the plot, and the setting of the story. Every time I sat down to write, I felt as if I were slogging through knee-deep mud. I struggled to type even a sentence. I felt as if the book would never be done and I seriously considered abandoning it.

Then, right after the New Year I received this direct message on Twitter:

I can assure you without hesitation this message is one of the best late Christmas presents I ever received.

Ever!!

I don’t know how long it took the sender to compose her message. Seconds maybe? Perhaps minutes?

But her kind words of encouragement and thanks meant so much to me, and put me right back on track.

And guess what? I finished the book! That reader’s kindness worked like magic in helping me regain my writer’s mindset so I could complete the story I was working on. I will always be grateful to her.

I’m also on the look-out for opportunities to spread my own version of a kind word to another author; to tell her (or him) how much I enjoyed her book and look forward to reading her next one.

I’m not talking about leaving an anonymous book review, although they’re important (every writer knows our careers live and die by some mysterious book review algorithm that no one understands). Instead, I’m talking about actually reaching out to another writer directly. And every time I do so, I’ll have in the back of my mind the Twitter message I received and the difference it made for me.

How about you? Have you ever been the recipient of a simple act of kindness that made a big difference in your life?

A Brand New Month and Kitty Bennet

It’s February. I know, I can’t believe it either.

But even though time seems to be flying by, I’m really looking forward to a new month, since everything I hoped to accomplish in January didn’t quite happen as planned.

On January 4th I came down with the flu, and it really took me out of commission for about two solid weeks. I needed a third week of home confinement just to ensure I looked presentable before going out in public again.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get much writing done during the month.

But some good things happened, too . . .

First, I began plotting a new Jane Austen inspired story that centers on Kitty Bennet.

Lydia (Julia Sawalha) and Kitty Bennet (Polly Maberly) in BBC’s 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice.

In Austen’s Pride and Prejudice Kitty is a minor character, who never really gets a chance to show readers who she is. In fact, Kitty is really little more than a follower; her personality is constantly overshadowed by that of her younger sister Lydia. I’ve always been intrigued by Kitty (just as I was by her sister Mary, who also got short-shrift in P&P). I’m hoping this new story will give Kitty a chance to shine and find a Happily Ever After of her own. I’ll keep you posted in my progress.

The other great thing that happened in January: I scored tickets to Hamilton! Here’s my happy dance:

I absolutely love going to the theater and seeing live performances; it’s even better when I can make an evening of it by having dinner at my favorite restaurant before the show.

But before I put on my best clothes and head downtown for a night out in Denver, I have some serious writing to catch up on. I have publishing goals to meet this year and I’m already behind on my daily word counts.

So today I’m going back to work with a vengeance and, if everything goes right, I’ll soon be able to report to you on my progress. In the meantime . . .

Happy February! I hope it proves to be a great month for you!